Guide for beginners betting on NBA


The NBA has been working hard in recent years to increase the reach of basketball around the world. Mirroring the efforts of the NFL’s international expansion, the NBA is keen to take the game to fans globally and increase the worldwide popularity of a sport that is predominantly seen as American.

The success of those efforts can be seen in the rise in NBA betting globally, reflecting a similar boom seen in the US, as more and more fans discover that having skin in the game can add to the on-court excitement. Relaxed betting regulations both in the US and internationally, plus the Netflix documentary ‘Last Dance’ featuring Michael Jordan, have all helped create unprecedented interest in the game.

If you’re new to basketball or betting and want to understand what all the excitement is about, here’s our beginners guide to betting on the NBA.

The most common types of NBA bets:

  • Moneyline
  • Over/Under
  • Spread bets 
  • Live bets on games in progress
  • Prop bets 
  • Parlay bets

Moneyline Bets

Betting on NBA lines is the simplest bet there is, and it’s a great way for first timers to start. All you have to do is pick the winner of the game. If you get it right, you win. If you don’t, you lose.

For Example:

Dallas Mavericks: -175  

Milwaulkee Bucks: +165 

The team with the minus (-) next to their name is the favorite, and are expected to win the game. The team with the plus (+) next to their name is the underdog, which means the oddsmakers expect them to lose. 

In this example Dallas are the favourites to win the game, so in order to win one dollar you need to bet $1.75 on the Mavericks. However, a one dollar bet on a Bucks win would return $1.65 if successful.

Total (Over/Under)

This is a classic NBA bet which can take a variety of forms, but the basic premise is that you’re wagering whether a game will go “over” or “under” a specific number established by oddsmakers.

The common over/under bet in basketball is total points, and involves predicting how many points will be scored in a single game, by both teams combined. If the sportsbook offers a figure of 230, that means an ‘over’ bet would win if more than 230 points are scored. However, if you bet on under, you win if less than 230 points are scored.

There are a variety of over/under bets in basketball that help keep it interesting for everyone. They can include player/team total assists, points scored, rebounds 3-pointers, wins, and many more. The advantage of this bet, is that it does not depend on the actual result of the game, making it more exciting.


Sometimes called ‘Handicap’, spread betting is the sportsbooks way of levelling the playing field when there’s a clear favorite. It’s also a great way of making the game more interesting to bet on and watch. 

For Example:

Miami Heat +3.5 +145

Washington Wizards -3.5 -175

In the above example, the Wizards needs to win the game by more than 3.5 points for your bet to succeed. If you bet on the Heat, they can either win the game outright, or lose by less than 3.5 points in order for your bet to win.

Live Betting

This is one of the fastest growing forms of NBA betting. Live betting is essentially in-game betting, meaning you can place bets on a match while they are still playing. This is a great way to make sure you always have some skin in the game or take advantage of some unexpected twists and turns in the game.

Prop Bets

NBA prop bets are wagers on the statistical performance of players and teams, and not about who is going to win the game – which means game interest can often be sustained right up to the final buzzer! There are lots of opportunities to wager on NBA player props and NBA team props on every game, but the most common NBA prop bets are:

  • Points scored
  • Rebounds
  • Assists
  • Fouls
  • 3-pointers

Parlay Bets

Parlay bets might sound complicated at first but it’s simply a wager that incorporates two or more bets. Imagine you want to bet on Utah Jazz, Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic, all to win their games. Instead placing three individual bets, you can merge all three bets together by parlaying them and increasing your potential winnings. 

The benefit of the parlay is that it offers higher payoffs than if you were placing each individual bet separately, because the likelihood of getting all of them right is statistically lower. The more bets you merge the grater the potential reward, but if any of the bets in the parlay lose, the entire parlay loses.

NBA Betting Tips

We all get hunches from time to time but research gives you a better understanding of sportsbooks odds and discovering where the value is. The more research you do, the better your chances of success! And remember, wins and losses are all part of the excitement, so set a budget you can afford to lose and make sure you stick to it.

Leave a Comment